| 17.3°C Dublin

McDonnell laments loss of Adam ahead of Cup tie with Pat's

SHELBOURNE boss John McDonnell believes that the Ipswich-bound Reds youngster Adam McDonnell could be just the first in a line of exports from the Tolka Park club.

After Friday's difficult league battle with Division One title rivals Longford Town, a 0-0 draw, Shels are in FAI Cup action tonight, taking on St Patrick's Athletic in a refixture of a game was was abandoned last Monday due to a floodlight failure.

It's a battle for both managers to compete on two fronts as Pats also have an interest in the top flight's title race but now that the Longford game is out of the way, Reds manager McDonnell (above) can focus on the Cup challenge.

But he will have to do it without teenage defender Adam McDonnell, who played his last game for the club on Friday as he's off to Ipswich Town, that deal due to be completed today.

"It's a blow to lose Adam as he's a great player for us and we're heading into a busy time as we try to compete in the league and the FAI Cup," says the manager.

"But we wish Adam well in his new career in England. We have a lot of very promising young players here and Adam is just one of them. Lads like Dylan Connolly and Ryan Robinson have played for our first team and won youth caps this season, Lee Desmond has been very good for us. They are all young lads with real potential and they could all go a lot further in their careers."

The Reds have had a good track record in producing players for export from their schoolboy structure - Anthony Stokes (Arsenal), Robert Bayly (Leeds) and Lorcon Fitzgerald (West Ham) were just three of their successes - but it's a long time since a player left the Shels first team and moved to a club in Britain.

Scouts have already been tracking their young talent this season, with cross-channel trials for Robinson (Everton) and Connolly (Bolton) while ex-Newcastle United man Desmond could get a second crack at full-time football on the back of his current form.

The question now for Shels is how much further they can go in the FAI Cup, earning this replay after a 1-1 draw at Richmond Park.

"We have to start the game better," says McDonnell, clearly aware that his side concedced just three minutes into the drawn game, as a strike from Alan O'Sullivan cancelled out that lead ghoal from Chris Fagan.

"I know we can try to compete agianst Pats despite the resources they have but we need to be sharper from the start and not concede like we did in Richmond."

As a former player and manager of St Pats, McDonnell is all too aware of the importance of that competition to a club who last brougfht the trophy to Inchicore in 1961. "I don't expect Pats to ease off in the Cup and focus on the league, they will want to win both," says McDonnell.

"They had a big win in Derry on Friday, they are still there in the league, we're competing on two fronts as well so this shouldl be a good battle."